Catarina Marques (CDU): Algarve cannot just be good for those who spend their holidays here

«What we say in the Algarve is what we will do in the Assembly of the Republic»

Catarina Marques is 44 years old, is a Special Education teacher at the Tomás Cabreira Schools Group, in Faro. He is the leader of the Union of Teachers of the South Zone. He is also the head of the list of the Unitarian Democratic Coalition (CDU) for the Legislative Elections of 30 January, for the constituency of the Algarve, where he seeks to regain the place of deputy that the CDU already he had.

With Catarina Marques, the series of interviews that the Sul Informação is publishing, with all the heads of the list of all the political forces that are candidates for the constituency of the district of Faro.

To all, and in a logic of equal opportunities, the same questionnaire with 12 questions was sent, in a timely manner.

The answers are, of course, diverse, as will become clear over the next few days, with the publication of all the interviews.

Sul Informação – What are the priorities of your political force for the next legislature for the Algarve?

Catarina Marques – Intervening towards a general increase in wages, a true regional and national emergency, fighting the precariousness and deregulation of working hours that affect many Algarve workers.
End the tolls on the Via do Infante, which are only maintained because the PS and PSD successively fail the PCP proposals.
Ensure an extraordinary increase in pensions for all pensioners, including those whose pensions have been frozen.
Strengthen Public Services, in particular the SNS, securing and attracting professionals.
Repeal the PSD/CDS Government Rent Law and move forward with the public offer of housing.
Ensuring that day care centers are free of charge and the creation of a public network of day care centers.
Invest in public transport, expanding the offer, namely with the creation of a public road operator and with the modernization of the Algarve Line.
Diversify economic activity in the Region.

SI – What led you to accept being the head of the list for the party or political force you represent?

CM – I joined the CDU lists for the Assembly of the Republic in the last two elections. By assuming, this time, the condition of first candidate, I am aware that I have the conditions, together with the entire CDU team, to be the voice of the workers and populations of the Algarve in the Assembly of the Republic.
A voice that became more muted with the loss of the deputy in 2019, but I am convinced that, on the 30th of January, the population of the Algarve will correct this situation.

SI – What are the expectations and objectives of your political force in relation to these Legislative Elections?

CM – Affirm an alternative course and policy for the country, render accounts, present solutions for the region, listen and meet the people and reinforce the number of votes and, naturally, elect one of the 9 deputies who will go from the Algarve to the Assembly of the Republic

SI – What remains to be done in the Algarve?

CM – A different policy. A policy that, instead of being subordinated to the interests of economic groups and dependent on EU impositions, responds to the problems of the Algarve.
Raising wages, enhancing public services, diversifying economic activity and promoting national production, ensuring more fiscal justice, and taking advantage of the potential of a region that cannot just be good for those who come here to spend their holidays.
It also has to be a land where the living conditions of those who live and work here are guaranteed.

SI – Health is a deficit sector in the Algarve and in the country. What measures do you recommend to solve the health problems in the Algarve?

CM – Immediately, measures are needed to attract and retain health professionals in the SNS.
For this, it is necessary to value careers and salaries and provide incentives for the retention of health professionals who are being looted by the private business of the disease.
This is the only way to guarantee a family doctor and nurse for everyone, plus consultations, exams and surgeries.
It is also necessary to invest in the primary care network, requalifying facilities and acquiring missing equipment.
It is necessary to put an end to the outsourcing of many SNS services which, for this very reason, become more expensive for the Portuguese people.

SI – And what about Hospital Central do Algarve? When should you move forward and why?

CM – It is necessary to move decisively towards the construction of the Central Hospital of the Algarve, a promise that has been successively postponed, as well as new facilities for the Hospital de Lagos.

SI – The previous government advanced with the Decentralization of Competences to the Municipalities. What balance do you make of this process?

CM – The CDU opposed the so-called Decentralization of Competencies that stems from an agreement between António Costa and Rui Rio.
More than competences, what is being transferred to the municipalities are charges, in a logic of eliminating the State's responsibility towards the privatization of public services.
The municipalities that have already done the math know that, with the transfer of competences in the areas of health, education, social security, etc., there will be a lack of resources to respond to the needs that are already met by the municipalities.
This measure also causes imbalances and inequalities between municipalities and will tend to create even deeper injustices in the country.

SI – Should a future government move forward with Regionalization? Why or why not?

CM – Regionalization is a constitutional imperative that has been systematically postponed by PS and PSD.
This democratically elected level of power should have been implemented for a long time, allowing for regional responses, in matters such as transport, water supply and waste collection, environmental protection and other matters that require an intermediate level of power (and with means) between the municipalities and the Central State.

SI – In the Assembly of the Republic, there have been resolutions to end tolls on Via do Infante or, at least, to introduce significant discounts. What do you think about this topic and what solutions do you recommend?

CM – The tolls only remain because PS and PSD have successively failed proposals, namely from the PCP, to end them.
The reduction that was achieved, against the wishes of the PS, does not respond globally to the problem.
After 10 years, after the private concessionaire raised hundreds of millions of euros for the operation of public infrastructure, it is time to return Via do Infante to the Algarve.
We see no reason why this should not be done by 2022.

SI – At the beginning of the current pandemic crisis, the Government announced a specific plan for the Algarve, which never came to fruition. What does Algarve Tourism need to recover from the pandemic?

CM – It is not the large economic groups that operate the main hotel units that need support.
Those who needed and need support are the thousands of micro, small and medium-sized companies that were the main victims of the impacts of the pandemic.
In fact, the CDU was the force that presented the most proposals in the Assembly of the Republic to support MSMEs in the region and in the country.
But tourism in the region needs to diversify its markets, rather than being increasingly dependent on two or three countries. A strategy that bets on this diversification is needed.
It is also necessary to ensure that the country is not completely dependent on foreign airlines, so it is necessary to strengthen TAP and also place it at the service of Tourism in the Algarve.
And finally, developing tourism does not imply ceasing to diversify other economic activities, as proposed by the CDU.

SI – In the case of more fractious issues, such as regionalization, tolls on Via do Infante and health, among others, if you are elected, will you vote for the AR according to your conviction, even if it goes against the guidelines of your party?

CM – I cannot conceive that my party, the PCP, has any positions other than defending the interests of workers and the populations of the Algarve and the country.
This dilemma does not arise for the CDU.
What we say in the Algarve is what we will do in the Assembly of the Republic.